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Braddock's Defeat

Braddock's Defeat (1755).At the outset of the French and Indian War, a 1,450‐man advance column of Gen. Edward Braddock's army of British and American soldiers had, by July 1755, marched for three weeks without incident, to within seven miles of Fort Duquesne. The advance party, apparently lulled into overlooking routine precautions, failed to detect an approaching force of 783 French, Canadians, and Indians.

The equally surprised French troupes de la marine blocked the twelve‐foot‐wide forest roadway with effective musketry. Braddock's column did not receive—or did not hear—the order to halt, and infantry, artillery, and baggage train telescoped into each other in confusion. Indians and Canadians immediately used Indian tactics of “moving fire” along both flanks of the disrupted column. The British lost 977 wounded and killed, while their opponents sustained only 39 casualties.

The British sought revenge, committing unprecedented funds and regulars to the war. Indian victors, gathering rich booty, encouraged dozens of tribes to assist in the successful French campaigns of 1756 and 1757. Braddock's defeat also provoked Indian raids that disrupted the Pennsylvania and Virginia frontiers. In American mythology, “Braddock's Defeat” became a convenient synonym for the superiority of frontiersmen over European regulars.


Paul E. Kopperman , Braddock at the Monongahela, 1977.

Ian K. Steele

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